Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889-1953)
Oil on linen
Overall: 30 1/8 × 24 3/16 in. (76.5 × 61.4 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Mrs. Edith Gregor Halpert
Rights and Reproductions Information
© Estate of Yasuo Kuniyoshi/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Yasuo Kuniyoshi painted numerous images of young boys and girls, sometimes engaged in domestic activities and sometimes portrayed more formally, such as this child in an unnaturally stiff pose. Kuniyoshi was interested in capturing the girl’s precocious maturity—a quality he alluded to in the painting’s original title, The Einstein Child. Like much of Kuniyoshi’s work, this portrait draws inspiration from Western modernism and the artist’s Japanese heritage, as well as from the folk art of both cultures. With its pared-down language of flattened planes and angular lines, Child brings together elements of these various traditions, especially evoking eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American folk art portraits of children. Here, Kuniyoshi’s individualistic blend of modernist sophistication and folk art primitivism finds its corollary in his subject—a sitter who appears at once mature and naïve.